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Hello - I'm Dr Philip Banfield; your recently elected chair of the Welsh consultants committee. Some of you will know me as the immediate past chair of BMA Welsh council and a Welsh representative on BMA UK Council, some will know me as a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Glan Clwyd Hospital in north Wales, and others will hopefully get to know me in this role as chair of YOUR consultants committee.
There are several key challenges for consultants in Wales, not least for us to re-establish the consultant 'brand' as the experts that patients (and thus the NHS) depend and rely on for our specialist skills, knowledge and leadership. The lack of senior medical engagement you report widely in general is one facet of why our services are failing to evolve and keep up with changes to demand and practice. While it seems that many of us feel often under siege from a lack of beds, staff and resources, there is much we can do professionally and politically to make steady and gradual improvements for our colleagues, patients and the wider NHS. WCC will continue to campaign for culture change where raising concerns is welcomed, owned and acted upon by organisations without fear of victimisation which is even more important in the light of increasing medical errors made more frequent by staff shortages, overworking and an underlying political austerity agenda.
An immediate need though, is to make sure that the medical workforce is educated and given the tools to understand the effects of changes to pension taxation law. UK tax law needs changing with respect to annual allowance, tapering and lifetime allowance; mitigating the effects of becoming a deferred member of the NHS pension scheme and campaigning for recycling of employers' pension contributions (part of the agreed total rewards package you signed up to when you became a doctor) may be priorities that the committee wishes to explore further.
One of WCCs tasks will be to increase local awareness and presence of 'Your BMA'; NHS consultants have a pivotal role in leading and supporting doctors at all levels and medical students – and our colleagues in primary care, academia and public health who are all part of the 'BMA family'. As the BMA is fond of stating 'we are one profession'. We must, I repeat must, support and look after each other and those who are less able to look after themselves, through our modelling of behaviours that demonstrate our seniority, leadership and expertise; "civility saves lives", and consultants being champions of civility and reason can save our Welsh NHS through making it safer, sustainable and the best place to train, work and live.
As ever, your views are extremely important to us, so if you have any concerns or issues affecting your hospital please get in contact with us. We can put you in touch with your local representatives – please email Sarah Ellmes ([email protected]) in the BMA Cymru Wales office for assistance.
Here's to making a difference....
Dr Philip Banfield